Guest Post – Amsterdam by Keren David
I have recently read This Is Not A Love Story by the brilliant Keren David and I ADORED it!
It is fab read and I have definitely found another favourite book of 2015! It is definitely a 5 star read!
My own review will follow shortly but for now here is a bit about the book….
Kitty dreams of a beautiful life, but that’s impossible in suburban London where her family is haunted by her father’s unexpected death. So when her mum suggests moving to Amsterdam to try a new life, Kitty doesn’t take much persuading. Will this be her opportunity to make her life picture perfect?
In Amsterdam she meets moody, unpredictable Ethan, and clever, troubled Theo. Two enigmatic boys, who each harbour their own secrets. In a beautiful city and far from home, Kitty finds herself falling in love for the first time.
But will love be everything she expected? And will anyone’s heart survive?
There are so many things I loved about this book! One thing I loved about This Is Not A Love Story was the setting. It is set in Amsterdam and Keren David describes Amsterdam and its traditions with such beauty and love that it has really made me want to visit and explore that beauty for myself with my family!
Upon finishing the book I was over joyed to read in the author acknowledgements that Keren in fact lived in Amsterdam for a while. This intrigued me and really cemented the love for this city that came across in the book.
Therefore I asked Keren if she would share some of her memories of Amsterdam for a guest post! I am over the moon that she agreed and am honoured (and very excited) to have Keren feature on Tales Of Yesterday today sharing her love and memories of a city she clearly fell in love with.
*hands over to Keren*
I never wanted to move to Amsterdam.
In fact, it was the last thing I needed. We’d had a terrible year, full of tragedy and trauma, and I’d been supported through it by my wonderful friends and family in London. Now I was being torn from them, and going to a country where I didn’t speak the language and knew no one. Amsterdam looked set to be an ordeal. I gritted my teeth and looked forward to being back in London after my husband’s two year contract was over.
In fact, although it wasn’t easy, Amsterdam was never an ordeal. It’s too beautiful for that, too interesting, too enjoyable. I made new friends quickly and easily thanks to the ever-welcoming international community. My new city was the perfect place to bring up small children, with the many green spaces, the play equipment on every street corner, and the quaint shops selling traditional wooden toys.
I flapped around at first, not knowing where to buy basics, like a bath mat, and bringing home what I thought was skimmed milk, to discover that karnemelk was actually buttermilk – yuck. I never got to grips with Dutch, because everyone wanted to show off their fluent English. It took years to master cycling because I was too nervous to try when pregnant or with a small child – I wasn’t Dutch enough to stow my kids in a big wooden basket at the front of the bike. And I certainly pined for friends and family and British stuff – it was a sad day for me when Marks and Spencer, purveyors of food for homesick Brits, closed their doors in Kalverstraat.
But we stayed. We stayed eight years. And gradually I came to love Amsterdam, and appreciate its healing properties.
It’s so green for a start. We loved the Amsterdamse Bos, the manmade forest to the south of the city where you can picnic in a meadow or on a beach, where the kids can paddle in the lake or swing on a zipwire to a secret island just for children.
We spent a lot of time in the Vondelpark, drinking coffee in the café that looks like a flying saucer, or teaching the kids to roller blade.
Some days we’d drive out to Ijmuiden, a glorious flat beach which is almost deserted for most of the year, where you can buy fish and chips with vinegar, provided for Brits arriving on the Newcastle ferry.
Or we’d take visitors to Enkhuizen, where an open air museum recreates Dutch villages of the nineteenth century.
Amsterdam is full of visual spectacles, from fine art, through architecture to events such as King’s Day (Queen’s Day when I was there) when everyone wears orange and the city turns into a flea market with everyone out on the streets, selling old toys, clothes and anything else they don’t need. We loved the annual Gay Pride parade, which takes place on the canals, with each float more flamboyant and celebratory than the last.
And, even though it’s deeply politically incorrect to non-Dutch eyes, we’d always go to the annual Sinterklaas parade, to see St Nicholas arrive on a galleon from Spain, mount his white horse and progress through the city aided by his friend Zwart Piet. Yes, that means Black Piet, and the Dutch really do black up for the occasion.
My children made lanterns for St Maartin’s Eve, and knocked on doors to sing special songs and ask for sweets – although we got laughed at when we muddled up the words and sang ‘The cows have got their skirts on.’
Amsterdam opened doors for me. I’d never cycled before, and it was a joy to find out how much it feels like flying. I started an Open University degree and discovered that I was fascinated by art history. I learned about photography – I got a job at an agency for photo-journalists – and I helped out in a school art room. I made friends from around the world. I ate Indonesian food, baby pancakes doused in icing sugar and olieballen – oil balls – for New Years’ Eve. Eventually the only thing I missed about the UK was family and friends…and John Lewis.
You can fall in love with a place and love the person it enables you to become. I hope This is Not A Love Story encourages you to get on a plane to find out for yourself everything that Amsterdam has to offer.
About Keren David
Growing up in a small town in Hertfordshire, Keren David had two ambitions: to write a book and to live in London.
Several decades on, she has finally achieved both. She was distracted by journalism, starting out at 18 as a messenger girl, then working as a reporter, news editor, features editor and feature writer for national newspapers and magazines. She has lived in Glasgow and Amsterdam, where in eight years she learned enough Dutch to order coffee and buy fruit and vegetables. She is now back in London and lives with her husband, two children and their insatiably hungry guinea pigs.
Keren wrote her first novel When I Was Joe as a project for a course in writing for Children at City University. Starting the course to publishing the novel took exactly two years.
This Is Not A Love Story is out now!
You can buy a copy here or why not ask your local bookshop to order it in for you!
I love this post on Keren’s website about the cover for This Is Not A Love Story and a bit more about the book – here
You can find out about Keren’s other books here
I also caught up with Keren at #UKYAExtravaganza and asked her some quick-fire questions – here
Have you read This Is Not A Love Story? Did you enjoy it? Did it make you fall in love with Amsterdam or have you ever visited Amsterdam? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !
Go visit Amsterdam and take this book along with you 🙂